Like everyone else, we’re obsessed with Thipsamai, the Old Town Bangkok shophouse restaurant that claims to be the oldest pad thai place in town and which, everyone kinda agrees, is the best in the game.
We’ve waited in line for hours to get those hot, spicy, oily, delicious noodles. Somehow, no one cooks shrimp like the folks at the original Thipsamai restaurant on Maha Chai Road. It makes sense though, they do have over 80 years’ experience.
Once seated in the restaurant, watching the cooks create is amazing — noodles, shrimp, and tofu fly through the air, stir frying takes seconds, and noodles get folded into pretty eggy envelopes before your cup of water can reach the table.
The humble shophouse is widely considered the city’s best pad thai, with people lining up around the block to get a taste at the original location or in their other setups in Phuttamonthan and Rangnam.
The restaurant has been featured on BBC, National Geographic, and CNN, as well as in Time, Lonely Planet, Reuters, and The Guardian.
However, most of us won’t wait in that long line on a normal day — the heat, the humidity, all those bodies squished up against each other — only if a friend or family member comes to town.
But! Thipsamai has gone the way of Blue Elephant and introduced its own line of sauces and noodles so you can DIY up a plate at home — whether that’s a Bangkok condo or somewhere across the world long after your vacation is over. They are currently only available at their three Bangkok locations and on their website.
Coconuts caught up with Thanyanan Reungwetwattana, vice chairman of Thipsamai Group, to get the inside scoop on the take-home products. She tells us that they launched their line of noodles and sauces a year ago, but to very little fanfare.
She told us that the line started small so that they could test the market and get their factory up to speed. In the next two months, however, they plan to start fully exporting to specialty grocery stores worldwide.
So far, the limited reaction has been good: “The past year, lots of customers came to our restaurants and were delighted that they could bring our pad thai back to their country and share the taste of Thailand’s national dish. Even Thai people love it, they buy it and cook it at home. It makes cooking pad thai really easy.”
Though the restaurant is a money-making venture, the owner says he makes it his personal mission to preserve the spirit of pad thai and share an authentic version of the dish with people all over the world — including his own people.
Owner Sikarachat Baisamut has said, “If we do not make pad thai cooking easy to access and follow for this generation, the eating culture attached to Thai food will definitely be forgotten.”
The line includes ready-to-eat sets that include noodles and sauce in classic, vegetarian, and shrimp oil varieties. The sauce and noodles can also be purchased separately.
They claim the products taste just like what you get in their shops though, of course, the finished product will depend on a user’s ability to follow instructions, not burn the dish, and the quality of the other ingredients — radish, dried shrimp, hard tofu, egg, and fresh shrimp — added. That, and we haven’t got those awesome woks and fire power (literally) to work with in our apartments.
When we tried it ourselves at home, the dish was good and tasty but not up to the level of the restaurant — we suspect it was part noob factor, part equipment and fire factor. But, who knows, waiting in line in the heat likely makes your greasy, carby reward taste that much sweeter.
If you’re in Bangkok and want to try the original:
Thaisamai Pad Thai
313 Maha Chai Road
Open daily, 5pm-2am